Sunday 21 December 2014

Ban for taxi driver who fled after knocking women down

Claire O'Brien

Published 10/06/2014 | 02:30

The case was thrown out by a tribunal
The case was thrown out by a tribunal
Thomas Gifford

A HIT-AND-RUN taxi driver has lost his licence for two years after he knocked down two women at a crossroads.

Thomas Gifford (54) of Westwood Grove, Clara, Co Offaly, denied telling an off-duty garda who told him he'd broken a red light to "mind your own f***ing business" and denied calling the two women he'd just hit "f***ing bitches" who should "get the f*** off the road".

One of the women, who now has ongoing lower back, hip and knee injuries said the impact threw her into the air and she landed with her hands on the bonnet and her shoes on the other side of the road.

The 54-year-old pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving, breach of the peace and failing to remain at Hayes' Cross, Tullamore on February 24, 2013 but was convicted of all three offences, fined a total of €800 and ordered to pay witness expenses of €600.

The two women, who were on a night out but were not drunk, had linked arms and begun crossing because the only car on the road, which coincidentally belonged to traffic garda Pat McGee, was stopped at a red light.

Gifford denied taking off at speed after picking up a fare at a nearby taxi-rank and denied cutting the corner as he turned right past Garda McGee's car. Gifford said he didn't see the women at first.

He thought he had stopped before impact, even though he admitted both women ended up with their hands on the taxi's bonnet.

Appalling

He said he asked them if they were okay, but didn't hear their answers and said he left the scene because they were able to walk away.

He said he also wanted to defuse the situation, because he had a fare of four extremely drunk and abusive young men in the car.

He denied being abusive to the women or the garda, who was left to look after the women and report the incident when Gifford left.

Gifford, who has no previous convictions later called to the garda station.

Judge Catherine Staines said his behaviour was appalling.

The judge added that while the women could perhaps have taken more care crossing the road, the abuse aimed at them after being knocked down had added insult to injury.

Gifford's solicitor said he had not driven a taxi since the incident because he firstly couldn't renew his PSV licence and then couldn't afford the insurance.

Irish Independent

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